Posted 2/19/21 (Happy National Caregivers Day!)
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. –Revelation 2:19
Howdy Ho, all! Another Friday in Pandemic-dise, or something like that. 🙂 I hope everyone stayed warm and safe during this snowy, terribly cold week. I pray for the million caregivers who got out of routine this week because of the weather and the rolling blackouts. I know how important routine is and I know there are new struggles this week accordingly.
“This winter presents exhibit B
Snowed out of work and school, we played outside with our folks
In the name of productivity
Now we exchanged family bonding, fun for digital yokes.”https://digitalcornbread.com/shawshank-redementia-day-341-poem-tech-on-trial-a-frustrated-techies-anti-tech-rant/
One of the brightest spots of my really pretty cool if sometimes imperfect childhood was snow days. I can remember waking up earlier than normal (which says a lot because I am a super early riser) to listen for the alphabetized list of school cancellations:
then my heart would skip a beat because I knew the next word would make or break my next 18 hours……”Republic” (my home town…wild, exuberant joy…the collective sounds of 500 kids within a few miles in all directions of me bleating in cheers) or “Salem” (weeping and gnashing of teeth). I so feel for the kids of today who have been robbed of snow days in the name of productivity and progress.
See, I loved school, but I loved not school much more. We could often get our folks involved in the outdoor fun, one way or another. Dad may go outside and throw some snowballs (after working a long night as a weatherproof postal employee). Mom would more likely make soup or cocoa and prepare for the snowy onslaught on the house when we reentered. Our marble-ish linoleum flooring stuff in the entry way beaded up the inevitable slushy mess we would bring in, but not before we made one last snowball and chased mom with it.
Was my edumacation hurt by missing a day of skule? Did I immediately become a knuckle-dragging bonehead because I missed one day of Mrs. Whitlow, the best teacher I have ever known, correcting me when I asked her “Can I go to the bathroom?” with “I don’t know, CAN you???”? Nope, I didn’t.
Loving, unproductive productivity.
Downtime…but character-building, life-giving downtime.
Anyone who has planned a vacation with the kids knows the hard truth that the unexpected is the most fun and memorable part of making memories. Going to Silver Dollar City with my friends and family was always fun growing up, but it is the small, unexpected joys at the park (little signs here and there…) and before and after going to the park itself, that made the memories. You just can’t plan those things.
So I lament our technology…the same technology that pays my and my brother’s salaries. I lament that we can work from home. I even more lament that my kids don’t get snow days because “alternative modes of instruction” have killed the unexpected joy of a winter respite.
Takeaway: I would also argue that the brain needs snow days, if you will. Sure, our brain needs sleep. It needs rest. But I think the brain needs unexpected joyous downtime from time-to-time too. Our gray matter is quite dedicated to its own resting schedule, thank you very much. That is why it demands sleep. That is why it demands that I drive down Highway 13 instead of taking a new route every day. It likes autopilot mode and thrives on it. An evolutionist would argue that it is saving its brainpower for fight-or-flight situations when mother nature threatens so that we will be sharp and ready. I get that and appreciate the idea if not the evolution worldview. I also think, though, that more is at play. We need fun. We need variety. We need shared experiences. We need spontaneity.
Kids…my kids even…feeling like you aren’t building lifelong friends? Get off your stupid devices and have more shared experiences…more snow days sledding down the side of the huge hills next to Stockton Dam. In the late 1970s and early 1980s we had several huge snows at our house. Somehow we snuck around and got on top of our house and sledded down into a quickly hardening snow cushion below. Make a snowman. Make an igloo. Pee in the snow… We need times like this, unexpected times…
Have you thought about the math behind rolling blackouts we experienced this week? They shut off power to one segment of a population for 30-60 minutes, then power it up and move on to the next. In the meantime, the one frozen solid cranks their heater to 90 degrees. The net effect of a rolling blackout is certainly not as helpful as a bean counter would think, which then requires more and more of them. I say the same applies with being hyper-productive and working/schooling from home on what should be a snow day. I am a rare bird that works very hard whenever I work. However, when I am off, I try to recharge. There is, what my MBA taught me, a concept called the “law of diminishing return” at play. I work hard all the time…and working from home doesn’t change that. It leads to me wearing down, bit-by-bit and leads to unintentional poor performance caused by this. I really needed a snow day and was instead “blessed” by being able to work instead.
What if we discover a drug that allows us to wash our brain of the plaque and tangles from dementia and refresh us instantly…and NOT NEED SLEEP at all. Would we work 18 hour days every day? 20? 22? Imagine how productive we could be…double productive working 16 hours than 8, right? Wrong. This has been a goal for generations. The Nazi’s attempted to perfect methamphetamine precursors so that their troops could fight 24/7/365. Imagine the advantage they would have???
Sigh…I guess I just miss the simpler times. I miss playing in the snow with my folks. I miss hot soup when I was done. I miss snow days. And I miss my mom. Take away too many things…these unexpected joys…and sadness/less productivity fills the vacuum. Want to cheer me up and read “Republic” on my school cancellation list? You don’t have to get me a time machine… Simple enough…Please help cure this disease. I will keep trying too. We can do it.
Update: Mom was pooped out during our only video chat that we were able to connect in. I have tried several time slots for video calls and she is zonked out during each. 🙁 We are hoping, as cases continue to plummet and vaccines continue to increase, to be able to do an outdoor-ish visit soon. The pressure to open back up has to be high for these administrators. Covid kills…I know that better than most as some 40 have died in mom’s nursing home alone. Yes, you read that correctly. 🙁 However, isolation takes its toll too and has to be remedied. I look forward to being able to sit with mom and have some unexpected joy again soon…
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple update: I finally got to run today after several days snowed in. I got in 7.25 miles on the Dreadmill. Then I went to the showers at my Planet Fitness and there was no hot water. 35 degree shower, then 0 degrees outside. Yes, I am awake. They are normally better…must be a fluke. 35+ miles in the middle of June will be hard, but not as hard as living with dementia is.
I did some training today in a cool organization that many of you can assist with and will help you:
More info will follow! 🙂
Have a great weekend, all!
I leave you with a schoolmate from my HS days singing that school is closed at his school:
Last small note…call it fine print. I get it, schools. I worked in school IT for 10 years. But let them have a day now and then…please. They need to be kids.